Today we celebrate Catechetical Sunday
In the Rite of Baptism parents are asked what they desire of the Church in the name of their child. They always respond (with some prompting) – ‘Baptism’. The celebrant then says, “In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training (your child) in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and neighbor. Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?” And they always answer with an enthusiastic – “Yes!”
From the very beginning parents are the primary catechists in the Church. They are the ones who plant the seeds of faith in their children and develop their practices of our faith traditions and belief in Christ Jesus. They develop their child’s knowledge of God and keep God’s love for his people alive in the hearts of future generations.
It is often heard that our young are falling away from the faith and its practices. But there is great evidence that young people today are yearning for faith and a more involved spiritual life. Statistics in the western world indicate a moderate to sharp increase in young people seeking God. But who will give them direction toward the One God and the teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ?
Where are these young people to learn about Jesus, our Savior? Where are they to hear of the love of God for His people? From whom will they discover and practice the traditions of our Church? Who will be their guides and leaders in word and example of the teachings of our Lord, Jesus that will lead them into salvation and life eternal?
It is up to each of us, parents, guardians, family members AND catechists to pass on our belief in Jesus Christ found in His Church.
Parents are always the primary catechists of the Church, the heads of the domestic Church where children learn from watching and listening to their parents. The most important formative and learning time in a child’s life is in the first five years, but continues with reinforcement throughout their young lives. When they are home with their parents and family they learn to do and say what they see and hear. It is in the home where the strength of what they learn about God will prevail over the teachings of the world, where the prince of evil prevails.
Any teacher will tell you, if you want to know the views of the parents, ask their children the questions for an unfiltered response.
Young children are like little sponges, absorbing everything parents and family members do and say. It is where they learn all the basic about life and survival.
- Home is where they learn about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
- In the home is where they learn the teachings and practices of the faith: saying prayers, going to Church and loving others.
- Home is where they develop their moral theology and ethical outlooks which they bring into the world.
- At home they learn to express love and care for others and a respect and dignity of their own humanness.
Our catechists build on the faith practices the child has learned in the home. Catechists are not the primary teachers of the faith, but are they who, with an expertise in teachings of the Church, help our young people learn more fully of the details of living our faith.
- Catechists bring a more developed grasp of the teachings of our Lord to young persons and help them in their understanding and development of our faith practices. They do not instill faith, but augment existing beliefs found and practiced in the home.
- Catechists do not teach young people of the existence of God and His love for His children, but build on what they learn in the home about the many ways God loves us and His desire for us to be with Him for all eternity.
- Catechists bring a fuller understanding of our faith practices through explanation, but it is in the home where young people learn to practice their faith by watching, listening and following the faith lived out in their family.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to our catechists, who prepare themselves to teach our young people; sacrificing their time to teach and showing their love of God through their care and concern for our young people.
We also want to celebrate all our families and guardians who pass on their belief in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior to their children by word and practice in the home. They are the primary teachers of God’s love to all our young people. It is in the home where the seeds of faith fall on fertile ground to be nourished and fed to grow fruitfully and multiply.
May God bless you abundantly in all you do in His Holy Name. ~Amen